Gydesen's technique and style are efficient enough. It's just that his work is impossibly cramped by the demands which Prince, a notorious control freak, has imposed. Everything's unbearably stultifying (compare Linder Sterling's violent portraits of Morrissey, or Kevin Cummins's live photography for NME). Prince is clearly so obsessed with choreographing everything around him that he sucks the art dry. Shots of the star preparing himself before an expansive dressing-room mirror are hideously conceited, as is a little peek-a-boo shot of him emerging through a curtain. Who is he kidding? We're seeing a fleeting Prince, a Prince caught mock-accidentally, playing the scamp, acting the tart. He is too cocooned to permit the slightest penetration.
There are telling lapses, though they too stink of calculated spontaneity - Prince on stage, shackled by chains and crowned by a sailor's cap like an extra from Querelle; crouched before a TV set, captivated by his own image; and alone, an empty dining table spread out before him. The most magnificent photograph here is also the only one whose veneer is infiltrated by rawness. It's a simple composition, a shot of Prince at the mike, waiting for the curtain to rise. The curtain is daubed with the design of his new name, the black squiggle which dwarfs the white-clad, doll-like singer, and whose tail (an arrow) is poised above him like the Sword of Damocles. For that instant, what we knew all along is suddenly made irrefutably clear - Prince has become bigger than himself.
The exhibition of Terry Gydesen's photographs of Prince runs until Sun (pounds 1.50/50p)
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